In writing, I’ve found that sometimes characters walk fully formed out of my imagination, and they take me for the ride. Other times, the story develops without characters and I have to figure out how to make the personalities. A man named Thom Beck showed my b/f a method of creating a quick personality for acting, and I’ve found it works for my characters as a good starting point for personalities. It’s called MIPAV, which stands for Motivation, Intention, Preoccupation, Animal Imagery, and Visualization. Each helps me get an idea of what the character is like.

Motivation is that, what does the character WANT above everything else. Use just a short phrase or a few words, not a page.

Intention is more what are his current ideas on how to reach his motivational goal. Again short words, and this one will vary with the character and the situation.

Preoccupation is more like things that might be hobbies, or interests that may or may not augment the motivation and Intention. More, it’s something the character does for themselves.

Animal Imagery is just that. Does the character see themselves as a predator, a prey, or something else. Is he a Lion? A bird? etc. How the character sees themselves.

Visualization is very specific to a scene in the story. What does the character see themselves doing?

All of these should be short answers, If you’re going past two or three sentences, it’s too long. Keep it tight. I get lost if I let it go past two sentences. Usually 5-6 words is all I aim for.